Yet there was a time when they were not a common sight here. By the mid 1970s, there were no nesting pairs of bald eagles in the James River Basin, and they were listed as an endangered species because of the impact of modern pesticides. Through conservation efforts and federal law, the eagle population has soared. As of 2014 there were well over 200 nesting pairs along the length of the James River. In the spring, you can look carefully for newly arrived eaglets in the nests on Jamestown Island.
Eagles were not a national symbol to the first English colonists. Those colonists admired the eagles in flight, but they also resorted to hunting them for food. The archaeological record from James Fort includes bald eagle remains that exhibit tool marks that show the birds were processed for consumption.